Report calls for action on UK digital skills crisis

A report by the Commons Science and Technology Committee has called on the government to address the UK’s digital skill crisis, warning it could risk damaging the country’s productivity and competitiveness.

The report found that 22 per cent of IT equipment in schools is ineffective; just 35 per cent of computer science teachers had a relevant qualification; only 70 per cent of the required number of computer science teachers have been recruited; the UK needs another 745,000 workers with digital skills by 2017; 90 per cent of jobs require digital skills to some degree; and skills gap costs economy around £63 billion a year in lost income.

It said: “Digital exclusion has no place in 21st Century Britain. While the government is to be commended for the actions taken so far... stubborn digital exclusion and systemic problems with digital education and training need to be addressed as a matter of urgency in the government's forthcoming digital strategy.”

Nicole Blackwood, the committee's chairwoman, said: “The UK leads Europe on tech, but we need to take concerted action to avoid falling behind. We need to make sure tomorrow's workforce is leaving school or university with the digital skills that employers need.”

Responding to the report, a government spokesperson said: "This government recognises the crucial role digital skills play in our society and economy. Our Digital Strategy, to be published shortly, will set out how we will help employers and individuals access the tools they need to power our digital economy.

"This will make sure we are well placed to remain a tech leader in Europe. We will consider the Select Committee's report and respond in due course."

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